Thyme is a popular herb that is used to add flavor to many dishes. It has an earthy, woodsy taste that enhances the flavors of meats, vegetables, soups, and more.
Fresh thyme can be found year-round, but it will be at its peak during the summer. If you find yourself with more thyme than you can use, you may be wondering if you can freeze it to extend its lifespan.
Below, we will discuss tips for freezing thyme and answer some frequently asked questions.
How to Freeze Thyme
Freezing is a great way to preserve fresh thyme for several months. Here are some tips for freezing thyme properly:
- Pick healthy thyme sprigs. Choose sprigs that are vibrant green and do not have any brown or wilted spots. Pick them in the morning after the dew has dried for the best flavor.
- Wash the thyme. Rinse the thyme under cool water and gently pat it dry with paper towels. Make sure no moisture is left on the leaves.
- Remove the leaves. Pull the tiny thyme leaves off the woody stems before freezing. The stems can be bitter once frozen.
- Freeze leaves whole or chopped. Leave the smaller leaves whole. For larger leaves, chop them first so they will be easier to use later.
- Freeze on a baking sheet. Spread the thyme leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze for 1–2 hours until hardened.
- Transfer to an airtight container. Funnel the frozen thyme into freezer bags, plastic containers, or jars. Squeeze out excess air and seal tightly.
- Label and date. Note the type of thyme and freeze date on the container. Use within 6 months for the best quality.
Freezing thyme properly will help it retain its flavor, color, and texture. Remove as much air from the packaging as possible to prevent freezer burn. Use good-quality freezer bags or airtight containers to store it.
How long does frozen thyme last?
When frozen using the proper technique, thyme will maintain good quality and flavor for approximately 6 months. Over time, frozen herbs will gradually start to lose their signature color and flavor.
Here are some signs your frozen thyme may be past its prime:
- Noticeable freezer burn on the leaves
- Limp, darkened leaves
- Diminished aroma and flavor
- Extensive loss of green color
For best results, try to use your frozen thyme within 6 months. If stored properly in an airtight container, frozen thyme may last up to 1 year before the flavor and quality degradation become too apparent.
Always inspect the thyme and give it a smell test after thawing and before using. If the aroma is still vibrant and the appearance is bright, it should be fine to use in your cooking.
Tips for Using Frozen Thyme
Using frozen thyme is simple. Here are some pointers:
- Thaw first for recipes requiring fresh thyme. Run the sealed container under cool water or let it thaw overnight in the fridge.
- Add frozen to dishes cooked for 30+ minutes. The frozen herb will thaw and infuse the dish with flavor.
- Reduce the amount used. The freezing process intensifies thyme’s flavor. Use 3/4 of the amount called for in a recipe.
- Add near the end of cooking. For quicker cooking recipes, wait to add the frozen thyme at the end to prevent it from losing flavor.
- Use within a week after thawing. Thyme will lose flavor and quality quickly after thawing. Cook with it immediately or refreeze.
With proper thawing and measurement adjustments, frozen thyme can be used in place of fresh in most recipes. The key is knowing when to add it to allow its flavor to properly infuse.
Frequently Asked Questions About Freezing Thyme
Freezing is an easy preservation method for thyme, but you may still have some questions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
How do you freeze thyme without it turning black?
Blanching the thyme before freezing will help prevent it from turning black. Quickly dip the thyme sprigs in boiling water for 15–30 seconds, then immediately transfer them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Pat dry, remove leaves, and then freeze.
Can thyme go bad in the freezer?
Yes, thyme can go bad in the freezer if stored for too long. Signs of frozen thyme going bad include limpness, freezer burn, change in color, diminished aroma, and off flavors. Use frozen thyme within 6 months and inspect before use for best quality.
Should thyme be chopped before freezing?
Chopping thyme before freezing makes it easier to use later. Whole thyme leaves will stick together when frozen. Chopping allows you to grab a sprinkle of thyme at a time. Leave the smaller, delicate leaves whole and chop the larger ones.
Can you freeze thyme in olive oil?
It is not recommended to freeze thyme in olive oil. The olive oil will solidify in the freezer and not properly coat the herbs. This leads to poor freezing and food safety issues. Instead, freeze thyme leaves without oil in airtight bags or containers.
What is the best way to thaw frozen thyme?
Refrigeration thawing overnight is best to prevent loss of flavor and quality. Seal the frozen thyme in a plastic bag, then place it in a bowl in the refrigerator for 8–10 hours. You can also thaw the bag in cold running water in just 10–20 minutes.
Is thyme still good frozen for a year?
Frozen thyme will lose flavor and aroma over time. For best quality and taste, use frozen thyme within 6 months. Thyme frozen properly in an airtight container will maintain acceptable quality for up to 1 year, but its flavor will diminish over time.
Freezing is an easy way to extend the life of fresh thyme for several months. Follow proper storage and handling practices, and your frozen thyme will retain its flavorful punch in your favorite recipes.
Storing fresh thyme properly
In addition to freezing, proper storage of fresh thyme is important for maximizing shelf life. Here are some tips:
- Store fresh thyme in the refrigerator, either in a cup of water covered with a plastic bag or loosely wrapped in a damp paper towel. This helps it stay perky for up to 2 weeks.
- You can also place thyme straight in a plastic bag or container—just make sure it’s dry first to prevent spoilage.
- Keep thyme in the fridge away from ethylene gas-producing fruits like apples, which can cause herbs to spoil faster.
- Do not wash thyme until right before using. Washing too early can cause it to spoil quickly. Store unwashed.
- Whole thyme sprigs keep longer than chopped thyme, retaining flavor for up to 5 days refrigerated.
Proper refrigeration and storage practices can prolong the life of fresh thyme. But ultimately, freezing is the best method for the long-term storage of thyme.
Freezing thyme is a simple and effective way to enjoy its aromatic flavor for months past the fresh harvest. Learn how to properly freeze thyme leaves, store them in airtight containers, and use this frozen herb just like fresh in your favorite dishes.
Follow the tips above for freezing, thawing, and cooking with frozen thyme. With proper handling, frozen thyme retains its color, flavor, and nutritional value remarkably well. Discover how easy it is to keep this garden treasure on hand, even out of season.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.